The impact of active lifestyle on functional fitness level of older women
As adults reach advanced ages, the purpose of physical activity may shift from disease prevention to functional fitness and mobility. The purpose of the study is to test the hypothesis that engaging in an active lifestyle is associated with higher functional fitness in older women. Functional fitness was assessed by the Senior Fitness Test in 125 women (73.42 ± 8.84 yrs). Participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days without altering their normal activity. Accelerometer data were downloaded, moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) determined via proprietary filtering, and time spent in each intensity was calculated. A 5 day average of time spent in MVPA was organized into 4 groups. Frequency distributions were calculated to examine the number of participants meeting ACSM recommendation for MVPA. With respect to MVPA, only 18% of participants met ACSM recommendations by engaging in 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity for at least 5 days per week. Nearly half of the participants were classified as normal on most functional measures. To determine if a relationship existed between the participants 5 day MVPA, functional fitness, age and weight, correlation coefficients were calculated. The strongest relationships were found between MVPA and the 6 min walk (r = 0.52, p ≤ 0.001), chair stands (r = 0.46, p ≤ 0.001), and up & go (r = -0.44, p ≤ 0.001). To determine if engaging in an active lifestyle is associated with higher functional fitness, participants were grouped by time spent in moderate intensity physical activity to determine a cut-off on improvement observed in functional fitness. MVPA group comparisons were made using one-way ANOVAs with follow-up Post Hoc analysis. The results revealed significant differences between groups on all measures except sit and reach. The one-way ANOVA indicated a threshold of 20 minutes for the 6 min walk, chair stand, and up & go. With regard to upper body strength and flexibility, less than 10 min of MVPA was observed to be detrimental to performance.